How to stop living on an autopilot

woman practicing mindfulness

‘In today’s rush we all think too much, seek too much, want too much and forget about the joy of just Being.’
—Eckhart Tolle

Does life just happen to you? Or do you make life happen?

Imagine you just drove home from work. You step out of your car, and I ask you how the trip was. Do you remember how many times you switched lanes or stopped at a traffic light? Most likely not, but you got home safe regardless.

When we live on autopilot, it feels like someone else is driving, not us.

Ninety-six percent of people in the UK admit to making most decisions on autopilot, according to this research—it has become an epidemic. Our minds are wandering around most of the time.

Autopilot Is Not the Only Driving Option

Are you living on autopilot because you want to, or because it just happens? How does it affect your decisions?

Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone

Discomfort is a doorway to personal discovery and growth. Learning happens when you stretch beyond your comfort zone. Test your limits. Try new things. When you step outside your comfort zone, you’re more likely to take risks and discover new ways of doing things; this can lead to personal growth and learning new ways of thinking.

Focus on Connection, Not Perfection

Life is more amazing when you focus less on perfection and more on connections. People and relationships bring us happiness and enrich our lives.


Write a journal or take notes to increase awareness and challenge your behaviour. Be patient. It takes time to recover control of your life. When we are aware of our inner worlds, we can challenge emotional habits, unquestioned motives, destructive behaviour patterns, unconscious actions and limiting beliefs; engage in authentic relationships; choose our life direction more freely; form more meaningful values based on core principles rather than what’s expedient at the moment; lead a happier and more fulfilled life.

A study done by two Harvard University psychologists, Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness, revealed that the average person spends about half (47 percent) of their waking hours doing what they call “mind wandering.”

You read that right, HALF…

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness becomes a practice when you choose to pay attention to what’s happening inside and outside of yourself. Mindfulness is the state of being present. Being present is when you have a clear focus on yourself and your surroundings without distractions. This state is a practice, just like anything else you want to master in life. Create space to start paying attention. You can reflect on your life. What do you like? Are you enjoying what you are doing? What’s going on? Are you focused or distracted? Why?

“Remember then: there is only one time that is important – Now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power.”
– Leo Tolstoy

An exercise to help you get out of the autopilot mode:

Begin by taking a comfortable seated position. Find a posture that feels relaxed yet alert, and close your eyes. Become aware of your natural breath. Noticing each inhale and exhale that enters and exits your nostrils. Pay attention to the space between the breaths, a moment of stillness at the top of each in-breath and at the bottom of each out-breath.

Now count to 6 on the inhale, pause and hold for a moment, release and exhale to the count of 8; pause and begin again. Continue this for 1-5 minutes and begin to understand the place of your breath is somewhere; you can come at any time to get centered.

Try Yoga

Step out of your comfort zone, learn how to breathe correctly and become more mindful by practicing yoga. Try one of our classes at our yoga studio in Dublin or online. Click here to view our schedule. Read our Beginners Advice blog for tips to get you safely acquainted with the practice.

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